The 10km or ’10 kay’ is something of a default distance. A yardstick, if you will. For elites, it’s a measure of serious speed, for intermediates and those newer to running it’s a great goal distance for an hour’s run. Whether you are running your first 10K or gunning for a PB in 2023 here are some tips to help you get there.
If you are just starting out (and here is how you can go from the couch to running in six weeks) a 10km is something of a natural progression from running 5km. The trick to doing the distance double is to gradually build your endurance. Most coaches and online programmes will suggest that you up your mileage by adding an extra day to your training—if you’re currently running 3 days a week, step it up to 4 — or adding 1.5km to each run every second week.
Once you’re comfortable with the increased mileage load on the legs you can step it up a notch by adding some speed work to get to your 10km goal. Once per week, do a run that incorporates short intervals of running at a hard effort. There are countless resources expounding the benefits of interval training but in broad sweeps, all runners will benefit from it because it will effectively (and in a short time) increase your aerobic capacity. Quite simply, running faster in small amounts will help you run faster overall.
For more advanced runners who are looking to hit a PB in a race, you want to practice running the pace and splits required in training and not leave it for race day. For an event such as Wings For Life World Run, the event’s Goal Calculator tells you the pace you’ll need to achieve a 10km goal – or any distance you choose. Just enter your target in kilometres or miles and the calculator will not only display the pace you’ll need to stay ahead of the Catcher Car, but also how long you’ll be running before the moving finish line catches you.
You can put that information to use by training with the Wings for Life World Run app. With its virtual Catcher Car, you can train anywhere you want and build up to a pace that will see you reach your goal. More of the best apps for training and racing coming in an article soon.
This is a part of training too often overlooked by newer runners. Strength training will not only help supplement your speed work but also helps safeguard your muscles from injury. According to a 2003 study in Sports Medicine, distance runners can improve their running economy up to 8% with consistent strength training. If you improve your ‘running economy’ you are going to cover ground faster, which means a faster 10km time.
Have a Game Plan
Whether you are gunning for a sub-40-minute or just looking to break into the hour realm, having a proper plan (with pacing splits) for your 10km race or time-trial day is the only way to go. As the pros will tell you, having a strategy will prevent you from getting swept up in the excitement of the occasion and then going out too hard, too soon. As a base plan for a 10km, run the first 1.5kms at a controlled pace, the middle 7.5kms at a steady to hard pace, but keep some in the tank to push the last 1.5km and as hard as you possibly can. To accurately track your pace and training, you’re going to need a sports watch. Read our guide here.
If that has inspired you to push your 10km running to the next level this year, check out some of these trail running venues where you can work on your trail pace and endurance.